We all love a damaged singer, don’t we? Maybe it’s just me.

And when a singer releases an album called “Dear…”, and I read the absolutely perfect line “‘Dear…’ makes ‘For Emma…’ sound like Skrillex”, well, it must be love.

However, my admission of love might in fact scare off Keaton Henson, a 23-year-old singer from the UK. As might my posting a picture. Let’s try anyway…

keatonhenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An article from the Guardian can explain this better than I:

The 24-year-old illustrator-cum-singer-songwriter, who self-released his debut Dear… through Bandcamp at the end of 2010, has never played the usual industry games. Recording in solitude in his Richmond bedroom in London, he’s amassed something of a cult following in a rarefied indie niche. But now, signed to Radiohead’s management, and having re-released Dear… through Oak Records in April, the prospect of coming face-to-face with his public is one that Henson has to confront. And it troubles him.

A series of panic attacks plagued his childhood – this much he admits, but he won’t explain why. After a series of live dates supporting the BalletBoyz at Sadler’s Wells in 2010, he went into hiding after finding he suffered from crippling stage fright. “I’ve always struggled with live music, both as a spectator and performer,” he tells me. “I used to enjoy going to live shows, but felt a strange jealousy. No part of me wanted to share the music with which I had such a profound relationship with a room full of (often drunk and chatty) strangers.”

However, as of this month, Keaton played two gigs in London – online reviews unfound to date. However, and more seriously, this latter quote of his is key – from Henson’s own website, in a section labelled “Intrude”, are a few lines which speak volumes:

Dear unknown
I hope you listen as though it were all for you
I hope she knows it was.
I hope you can forget the fact I do both
It meant more before.
The Author

So, to me, this music was never meant for us. And how can you not love a man quoted as saying:

If I can make the audience (in spite of how many of them there are) feel as lonely as I do, using the space and situation, everything makes more sense.

From Henson’s 2012 “The Lucky” EP, I give you the utterly, utterly heartbreaking “To Your Health” – nothing but plucked electric guitar and Henson’s tremulous falsetto, and a song that in anyone else’s hands, would be bitter and scathing. In Henson’s? Bitter. Scathing. And beautiful.

I’ve also included two videos for this song as well – while as powerful aurally as visually, there’s just…something…about these.

Keaton Henson wants us to feel as lonely as he does. Who are we to disagree?

So make mine a pain in the neck
Here’s to you, you old wreck
And mine is a thorn in the side
Drink up, so we can both finally die

And I’ll have a bright yellow boat
With nothing to row
With nothing to row

So make mine an all out of luck
Here’s to you, you miserable fuck
And why did you finally leave?
’cause all you think of is me
’cause all you think of is me

To your health
To your health

So make mine a pain in the neck
Here’s to you, you old wreck

Keaton Henson – To Your Health

www: Keaton’s official website; the only existing Facebook Page, run by fans; his Vimeo page, and that’s about it, to be honest.

I have a list of artists to feature on here, and I will, in time. From well-established artists whom I’ve tracked down myself, to submissions from little-known and unsigned artists, I have a list to work through, and I promise you all, I will work through it.

Of course, having a collection of music that allows me to create a list has its own drawbacks. More on this in a paragraph or two.

However, despite the list, sometimes, a song swings out of left-field, and runs kicking and screaming to the head of the queue. It’s not often a song manages to do this – the last one was probably Greg Laswell’s Come Back Down – but when it does, it leaves a mark.

After listening to about 30 seconds of Josh Garrel’s “Farther Along”, I went and bought his 2011 album “Love & War & The Sea In Between”.

joshgarrels

However, remember a couple of short paragraphs ago (see how I did that? I should write a novel…) when I talked about the drawbacks of a music collection? Well, apparently, I also bought Josh Garrel’s album earlier this year. Or at the end of last year.

Who knows? Who cares, when 30 seconds of a song can make you fall in love with a musician’s voice, and make you buy his album (twice)?

And I give you that song – “Farther Along” – an organ-and-guitar beginning, almost hymnal, with Garrel’s unique, and completely stunning, voice entering at 22 seconds, starting with the chorus rather than a verse – a voice with a quiver that will send shivers down your spine – the song builds with a drumbeat, strummed guitar and extensive lyrics at just past the minute mark, and reveals itself to be religious; a song that deals with how overwhelming this world, this life can be, but with the right outlook, we’ll understand what happens. It just might take a while.

I’m not religious; barely spiritual. But still, this song, this voice, leaves me wistful and smiling.

Something tells me it’ll leave you the same.

Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves ’em both
We’re all cast-aways in need of rope
Hangin’ on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I’ve seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin’ that line back home

So much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
Wash away all the things you’ve done
Forgiveness alright

Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by

Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin’ for my soul
And I’ve got no place left go
‘Cause I got changed by what I’ve been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin’ on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I’m free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I’ll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levees and my bluffs
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
‘Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we’re the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon

Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by

Josh Garrels – Farther Along

Buy “Love & War & The Sea In Between” here.

www: Josh Garrel’s official website, Facebook Page, Twitter, and MySpace.